By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Supreme Court has okayed fifteen minutes stand-down after counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, rejected the modality the panel proposed to adopt in hearing of appeal they lodged against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
Counsel to the appellants, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, had immediately the case was called-up, notified the seven-man panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, on the pendency of seven separate appeals with respect to the case.
Whereas six of the appeals were filed to challenge interlocutory decisions of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the substantive appeal is seeking to set aside the final judgement the Justice Mohammed Garba-led panel delivered on September 11.
The appellants had in some of the interlocutory appeals, challenged ruling of the tribunal that struck out some paragraphs of the affidavit they filed to support the petition against the declaration of President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the February 23 presidential election.
Meanwhile, the parties disagreed after the CJN-led panel disclosed its intention to use the substantive appeal to determine the outcome of all the other appeals.
The CJN after counsel to the parties announced their appearance, noted that since all the appeals bordered on the same subject matter, he stressed that deciding them separately would amount to the duplicity of effort and multiplicity of the ruling.
Observation of the CJN was reechoed by other members of the panel, who took turns and canvassed need for all the appeals to be consolidated.
While counsel to President Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, that of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said they were not opposed to the proposed morality, that of the appellants, Uzoukwu, SAN, prayed the court to allow him to adopt his processes in all the appeals.
Following a back-and-forth argument on the issue, the panel decided to go for a 15-minute break to allow the parties to reach a decision.
Other members of the panel are Rhodes Bode-Vivour, Olukayode Ariwola, Inyang Okoro, Amiru Sanusi, Uwani Abajji and Ejembi Eko.
The panel which started sitting around 9 am, have commenced hearing on the appeal.
The appeal is seeking to set aside the September 11 judgement of the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that affirmed Buhari as the valid winner of the presidential contest that held on February 23.
Among dignitaries at the tribunal included the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, Peter Obi, and the National Chairmen of both the PDP and the APC, Uche Secondus and Adams Oshiomhole, respectively.
More details soon.